Daphnis and Chloe

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Greek text from the Proem in the Bipontine edition of Mitscherlich

Daphnis and Chloe (Greek: Δάφνις καὶ Χλόη, Daphnis kai Chloē) is a Greek pastoral novel written during the Roman period, about the late 2nd or early 3rd century AD. It is the only extant work of the Hellenistic or Graeco-Roman romancer Longus, of whose life nothing is known. The tale is set on the Greek isle of Lesbos and tells joyously of the growth of a passionate attachment between its young protagonists.




There was never any yet that wholly could escape love.
  • On Lesbos while hunting I saw in a Nymphs’ grove a display, the fairest I ever saw: an image depicted, a story of love.
    • Proem, § 1: Incipit (tr. Jeffrey Henderson)
      • Or, as translated by Thornley:
        When I was hunting in Lesbos, I saw in the Grove of the Nymphs, a Spectacle, the most beauteous, and pleasing of any, that ever yet I cast my eyes upon. It was an Icon, or varied picture, reporting a History of Love.
  • This will cure him that is sick, and rouse him that is in dumps; one that has loved, it will remember of it; one that has not, it will instruct. For there was never any yet that wholly could escape love, and never shall there be any, never so long as beauty shall be, never so long as eyes can see.
    • Proem, § 2 (tr. George Thornley)

Book I

It was the beginning of spring...
His pipe does sound beautiful, but so do the nightingales — and I don't worry about them. If only I were his pipe, so that he'd breathe into me!
her eyes were as big as the eyes of an ox
  • It was the beginning of spring, and all the flowers were blooming in the woods and meadows, and on the mountains. The humming of bees, and the twittering of tuneful birds were already heard, and the new-born young were skipping through the fields: the lambs were gambolling on the mountains, the bees were buzzing through the meadows, the birds were singing in the bushes. Under the influence of this beautiful season, Daphnis and Chloe, themselves tender and youthful, imitated what they saw and heard. When they heard the birds sing, they sang: when they saw the lambs gambol, they nimbly skipped in rivalry: and, like the bees, they gathered flowers, some of which they placed in their bosoms, while they wove garlands of others, which they offered to the Nymphs.
    • § 9 (tr. Athenian Society)
  • What her passion was she knew not, for she was but a young girl and bred up among clowns, and as for love, had never so much as heard the name of it. But her heart was vexed within her, her eyes, whether she would or no, wandered hither and thither, and her speaking was ever Daphnis this and Daphnis that. She could neither eat nor take her rest; she neglected her flock; now she would laugh and now would weep, now would be sleeping and then again up and doing; and if her cheek was pale, in a twink it was flaming red. In sum, no heifer stung with a breese was so resty and changeable as the poor Chloe.
    • § 13 (tr. J. M. Edmonds)
  • There's something wrong with me these days, but I don't know what it is. I'm in pain, and yet I've not been injured. I feel sad, and yet none of my sheep have got lost. I'm burning hot, and yet here I am sitting in the shade. How often I've been scratched by brambles and not cried? How often I've been stung by bees and not screamed! But this thing that's pricking my heart hurts more than anything like that. Daphnis is beautiful, but so are the flowers. His pipe does sound beautiful, but so do the nightingales — and I don't worry about them. If only I were his pipe, so that he'd breathe into me!
  • He’s too poor even to keep a dog.
    • § 16 (tr. Paul Turner)
  • Chloe waited no longer but, partly because she was pleased by the compliment and partly because she had been wanting to kiss Daphnis for a long time, she jumped up and kissed him. It was an artless and inexperienced sort of kiss, but one which was quite capable of setting a heart on fire. So Dorcon ran off in dismay, and began to look for some other method of satisfying his love. But Daphnis reacted as if he had been stung rather than kissed. He suddenly looked almost indignant and shivered several times and tried to control his pounding heart; he wanted to look at Chloe, but when he did so he blushed all over. Then for the first time he saw with wonder that her hair was as golden as fire, that her eyes were as big as the eyes of an ox, and that her complexion was really even whiter than the milk of the goats. It was as if he had just got eyes for the first time, and had been blind all his life before.
    • § 17 (tr. Paul Turner)
  • By mid-day their eyes would have been taken prisoner. For seeing Daphnis naked, Chloe would be suddenly overpowered by all his beauty and feel faint at the impossibility of finding fault with any part of him; and Daphnis, seeing her in her fawn-skin and pine-crown holding out the milk-pail, would think that he was seeing one of the Nymphs from the cave. So he would snatch the pine-crown from her head and after kissing it would put it on himself.
    • § 24, 1 (tr. Paul Turner)
  • He also began to teach her to play the syrinx, and when she started to blow into it he would snatch the syrinx away and run his own lips over it; he gave the impression of correcting her mistakes, but by proxy of the syrinx he was giving Chloe kisses.
    • § 24, 4 (tr. Jeffrey Henderson)
  • While he was muttering this passion, a grasshopper that fled from a swallow took sanctuary in Chloe's bosom. And the pursuer could not take her, but her wing by reason of her close pursuit slapped the girl upon the cheek. And she not knowing what was done cried out, and started from her sleep. But when she saw the swallow flying near by and Daphnis laughing at her fear, she began to give it over and rub her eyes that yet would be sleeping. The grasshopper sang out of her bosom, as if her suppliant were now giving thanks for the protection. Therefore Chloe again squeaked out; but Daphnis could not hold laughing, nor pass the opportunity to put his hand into her bosom and draw forth friend Grasshopper, which still did sing even in his hand. When Chloe saw it she was pleased and kissed it, and took and put it in her bosom again, and it prattled all the way.
    • § 26 (tr. George Thornley)
  • He felt as though his life was still at the mercy of the pirates; for he was young and lived in the country and as yet knew nothing of the piracy of Love.
    • § 32 (tr. Paul Turner)
      • Or, as translated by Thornley:
        He thought his life was still in the hands, and at the dispose of the Tyrian Pyrats, as being but a young Rustick, and yet unskill'd in the Assassinations and Robberies of Love.

Book II

There is no remedy for Love, ... save only kissing and embracing and lying down naked together.
  • Love rules the elements, Love rules the stars, Love rules the gods, his peers—his sway over them exceeds yours over your goats and sheep. All flowers are the works of Love, all trees are his creations; through his power do rivers flow, and winds blow.
    • § 7 (tr. Ronald McCail)
  • For there is no remedy for Love, no cure to be drunk or eaten or chanted in spells, save only kissing and embracing and lying down naked together.
    • § 7 (tr. Ronald McCail)
  • People who are in love feel pain, and so do we. They lose interest in the things we’ve lost interest in. They can’t sleep, and that’s our trouble at this very moment. They feel as if they were on fire, and there’s a fire inside us too. They long to see each other, and that’s why we pray for the day to come more quickly. It must be love. And we must be in love with each other without realizing that it’s love and that we’re loved. Why, then, do we feel this pain? And why are we always looking for each other?
    • § 8 (tr. Paul Turner)
      • Or, as translated by McCail:
        Lovers feel pain—why, so do we! They neglect their food—just as we have done! They can’t sleep—that’s just our difficulty now! They think they’re burning—there’s fire in us, too! They long for the sight of each other—that’s why we pray for day to come more quickly! Maybe this is Love, and we are in love with each other without knowing it—or else it’s Love, but it’s only I who feel it. But if that’s so, why do we both feel the same pain? And why are we so eager for each other’s company?

Book III

Something sweet, that puts away the bitterness of love.
  • It was now the beginning of spring, the snow melting, the earth uncovering herself, and the grass growing green, when the other shepherds drove out their flocks to pasture, and Chloe and Daphnis before the rest, as being servants to a greater shepherd. And forthwith they took their course up to the Nymphs and that cave, and thence to Pan and his pine; afterwards to their own oak, where they sat down to look to their flocks and kiss each other. They sought about for flowers too to crown the statues of the Gods. The soft breath of Zephyrus, and the warm Sun, had but now brought them forth; but there were then to be found the violet, the daffodil, the anagall, with the other primes and dawnings of the spring. And when they had crowned the statues of the Gods with them, they made a libation with new milk, Chloe from the sheep and Daphnis from the goats. They paid too the first-fruits of the pipe, as it were to provoke and challenge the nightingales with their music and song. The nightingales answered softly from the groves, and as if they remembered their long intermitted song, began by little and little to jug and warble their Tereus and Itys again.
    • § 12 (tr. George Thornley)
  • Chloe wanted to know what else there could be besides kissing and embracing and simply lying down, and what he intended to do after they were both naked and he had lain down with her.
    ‘What the rams do to the ewes and the he-goats to the sea-goats’, said Daphnis. ‘Don’t you see how, after they've done what they do, the females don’t run away from the males any more and the males don’t weary themselves going after them, but from that time on they graze side-by-side as though they had enjoyed some kind of pleasure together? So what they do must be something sweet, that puts away the bitterness of love.’
    • § 14 (tr. Ronald McCail)
  • There was one apple-tree, the fruit of which had already been plucked, and which was stripped of its fruit and leaves. All its branches were bare, and only a single apple remained on the topmost bough, fine and large, more fragrant than all the rest. He who had plucked the others had not ventured to climb so high, or had forgotten to take it: or it may be that so fine an apple was reserved for a love-sick shepherd.
    When Daphnis saw this apple, he was eager to climb and pluck it, and, when Chloe tried to prevent him, he paid no heed to her, and she went off to her flocks. Then Daphnis climbed the tree, reached and plucked the apple, and took it to Chloe. Seeing that she was annoyed, he said: "Dear Chloe, the beautiful seasons have made this apple to grow, a beautiful tree has nourished it, the sun has ripened it, and chance has preserved it. I should have been blind not to see it, and foolish to leave it there, to fall to the ground and be trodden under foot by a grazing herd or poisoned by some creeping serpent, or to be consumed by time, though admired by all who saw it. Aphrodite was presented with an apple as the prize of beauty: I present this to you as the meed of victory. You are as beautiful as Aphrodite: your judges are alike: Paris was a shepherd, I am a goatherd." With these words, he placed the apple in Chloe's bosom, and, when he drew near, she kissed him, so that he did not regret that he had been bold enough to climb so high, for he was rewarded with a kiss that he valued above the golden apples of the Hesperides.
    • §§ 23–24 (tr. Athenian Society); cp. Sappho, fragment 105b:
      Like the sweet apple which reddens upon the topmost bough,
      A-top on the topmost twig,—which the pluckers forgot, somehow,—
      Forgot it not, nay, but got it not, for none could get it till now.
      —Translated by D. G. Rossetti, Poems (1870), p. 186

Book IV

What had happened in the woods was nothing but shepherds’ games.
  • Gnatho, being a fellow who knew only eating, drinking until he was drunk, and fornicating after he was drunk, and who was no more than a mouth, a belly, and the parts below the belly, had taken more than a casual look at Daphnis when he brought the gifts: having an ingrained taste for boys, and having found beauty of a kind unknown even in the city, he decided to move on Daphnis and thought that a goatherd would be easy to seduce.
    • § 11, 2 (tr. Jeffrey Henderson)
      • Or, as translated by Thornley:
        Gnatho, a man that had learnt onely to guttle, and drink till he was drunk, and afterwards play the lecher, a man that minded nothing but his belly, and his lasciviousnesse under that, he had taken a more curious view of Daphnis then others had, when he presented the gifts. And because from the beginning he was struck with Pœderastic by the Terrestriall gods, observing him to be such a beauty as all Mitylene could not shew, he resolved to tempt Daphnis to the purpose, and thought he had not much to do, because the Lad was but a Goat-herd.
  • Daphnis and Chloe lay together naked, hugged and kissed, spending that night more sleepless than any owl. Daphnis did some of what Lycaenium had taught him, and for the very first time Chloe learned that what had happened in the woods was nothing but shepherds’ games.
    • § 40, 3: Explicit (tr. Jeffrey Henderson)
      • Or, as translated by Thornley:
        But Daphnis and Chloe lying naked together, began to clip, and kisse, and twine, and strive with one another, sleeping no more then birds of the night; and Daphnis now did the Trick that his Mistris Lycænium had taught him in the thicket. And Chloe then first knew, that those things that were done in the Wood, were only the sweetest Sports of Shepherds.


Her kiss inflicts on me more pain than a bee's sting.
  • This little, pleasant Laundschip of Love, by its own destiny and mine, belongs moat properly to your fair eyes, and hands, and happier laps. And then, who would not lay his legge over a book; although that, sometimes, has been the complaint of a Schollar's solitude? But hold! There is nothing here to that purpose, but what Lycænium taught her Schollar in the Wood: Here Cupid is a Shepherd: Pan, a Souldier: Chloe, a maid, of whom Love would write a storie: a Youth, the Darling of the Nymphs: Love caught robbing an Orchard; and his own Herald from a Myrtle Grove. Here are Pipes that drown Pirats; others reduceing a Captive maid; pastorall Festivalls, and Games. The ceremonies, customes, and manners of the ancient Greekes; with a delightfull interspersion of their old and sweet Tales: And in short; nothing to vex you, unlesse perchance, in your own conscience. Chloe knew well enough (though the Author makes her simple) what, and where, her Fancie was; and Daphnis too, needed not Lycænium's Lanthorn to a plakit, or to follow Will with the wispe. But hark you Lady; and I will tell you a storie; one I had at a Tavern vesper; a Dialogue from a Summer shade. A boy, and a Girle were gott thither together: The boy opened his shop, and drew out all a young beginner had to show: The Girle askt him, what it was: The boy said, It was his purse: the Girlie looked upon her selfe; And, if that be thy purse; Then (quoth she) my purse is curt. And these are parallells to the simple ruralls here. But what say you to that Tradition of the Hebrewes; That a very wise man, knew not the way of a Serpent upon a Rock, nor of a young man with a maid? And those that say, Nicaula Sabæa had like to have puzzled him quite, with Boyes and Girles in the same dresse, but that he made them wash before him, and found out (as you do) all the Boyes, by a stronger kind of rubbing. But besides; it is so like your owne either simplicitie, or Art, you cannot but approve it here. You do not know what we meane, when we speak as plain as day. And now you have an Author too (which you never had before) to prove you do not counterfeit; The sophist in his third book; a man of great Authoritie; a Magistrate among the maids. For this, I have deserved a kisse of every sweet ingenious Girle; and if I find that this book lyes nearer to you, then the other Romances do, those of the affected twirling tongue; I shall trie, either to find, or ideate, somewhat for you, that for its various invention, intertexture, and the style; shall be composed, examin'd, and sent to your hands, by the test of Musick, beautie, Pleasure, and Love.
  • The Pastorals of Longus Sophista, to my knowledge have bin signed with the Youthful Emeralds of some of our own, most excellent, sparky, astrall Wits.
  • “For the tenth time, dull Daphnis”, said Chloe,
    “You have told me my bosom is snowy;
      You’ve made such fine verse on
      Each part of my person,
    Now do something—there’s a good boy!”
    • Anonymous, Index Limericus MS. (1942); quoted in G. Legman, The Limerick (New York: Bell, 1969), p. lxxiii
  • The emotions consequent on the first kiss have been described in the old naïve, but, nevertheless, exceedingly delicate love-story, of Daphnis and Chloe. As a reward Chloe has bestowed a kiss on Daphnis—an innocent young-maid's kiss, but it has on him the effect of an electrical shock:
    "Ye gods, what are my feelings. Her lips are softer than the rose's leaf, her mouth is sweet as honey, and her kiss inflicts on me more pain than a bee's sting. I have often kissed my kids, I have often kissed my lambs, but never have I known aught like this. My pulse is beating fast, my heart throbs, it is as if I were about to suffocate, yet, nevertheless, I want to have another kiss. Strange, never-suspected pain! Has Chloe, I wonder, drunk some poisonous draught ere she kissed me? How comes it that she herself has not died of it?"
    Impelled, as it were, by some irresistible force, Daphnis wanders back to Chloe; he finds her asleep, but dares not awake her: "See how her eyes slumber and her mouth breathes. The scent of apple-blossoms is not so delicious as her breath. But I dare not kiss her. Her kiss stings me to the heart, and drives me as mad as if I had eaten fresh honey." Daphnis' fear of kisses disappears, however, later on, directly his simplicity has made room for greater self-consciousness. That a kiss is like the sting of a bee, or pains like a wound, is a metaphor which many poets have used, and the metaphor comes undoubtedly near the truth.


  • The Sophist sees a picture of curious Interpretation in the Island Lesbos. And he describes it in four Books. The Situation of Mitylene (the Scene of the Story,) is drawn. Lamo a Goat-herd following a Goat that neglected her kid, finds an Infant-boy Exposed, with fine Accoutrements about him, takes him away, keeps him, and names him Daphnis. Two years after, Dryas a Shepherd, looking for a sheep of his, found in the Cave of the Nymphs a Girle of the very same fortune; brings her up, and calls her Chloe. Dryas and Lamo, warned by dreams, send forth the Exposed children together, to keep their flocks. They are joyfull, and play away their time. Daphnis running after a hee-goat, falls unawares together with him into a Trapditch made for a Wolf: but is drawn up alive, and well. Dorco the Herdsman asks of Dryas, Chloe for his wife; but all in vain.
    Therefore disguised in a Woolfs-skin, he thinks to seize her from a Thicket, and carry her away by force; but the flock-doggs fall upon him.
    Daphnis and Chloe are variously affected. Daphnis tells the Tale of the Stock-dove. The Tyrian Pyrats plunder the fields, and carry away Daphnis. Chloe not knowing what to do, runs up to Dorco, whom she finds a dying of his wounds; he gives her a Pipe of wonderful powers; she playes on it, and the Oxen and Cowes, that were carried away, turn over the Vessell; They and Daphnis swim to the Land, while the armed Pyrats drown. Then they bury poor Dorco, and return to their wonted game.
  • The Vintage is kept, and solemnized. After that, Daphnis and Chloe return to the fields. Philetas the Herdsman, entertains them with a discourse of Cupid, and Love. Love increases betwixt them. In the mean time, the young men of' Methymne, come into the fields of Mitylene, to hawk and hunt. Their Pinnace having lost her Cable, hey fasten her to the shore with a With. A Goat gnawes the with in pieces. The Ship with the Money, and other riches, is blown off to Sea. The Methymnæans madded at it, look about for him that did it: they light upon Daphnis, and pay him soundly. The Countrey Lads come in to help him. Philetas is constituted Judge. A Methymnæan is Plaintiffe; Daphnis Defendant. Daphnis carries the day. The Methymæans fall to force, but are beaten off with Clubs. Getting home, they complain of injury and loss by the Mytelenians.
    The Methymnæans presently command Bryaxis their Generall to move with 10 Ships against the Mytelenians knowing nothing. They land at the fields, plunder all they can lay their hands on, and carry away Chloe. Daphnis knowing it, would dye; but the Nymphs comfort him. Pan sends a Terrour (which is rarely described) upon the Methymnæans; and warns their Captain in his sleep, to bring back Chloe. The Captain obeyes, and she returns joyfull to Daphnis. They keep Holya-dayes to Pan, and Philetas is there. Lamo tells the story of the Pipe. Philetas gives Daphnis his most artificial Pipe. Daphnis and Chloe proceed to the binding of one another by amorous oaths.
  • The Mitylenæans upon that Incursion, send Hippasus their Generall with Land-forces against Methymna. But the quarrel is taken up. Daphnis and Chloe take it heavily that they are parted by the Winter. Daphnis to see her, goes a fowling before Dryas his Cottage, and looks as if he minded not her. Dryas brings him to the Feast of Dionysius. The Spring returning, they return to their Pastoralls. Daphnis complains of his ignorance in the practise of Love. Lycænium cousens him, and Cuccolds Chromis. Daphnis, as the Marriners sail by, tells Chloe the Tale of the Echo. Many and rich Suitors are now about Chloe, and Dryas almost gives his consent. Daphnis is sad as being poor: But by direction of the Nymphs he finds a purse full of silver. He gives it Dryas, and Chloe is contracted to him; onely Lamo, because he was Servant to Dionysophanes, sayes his Lord is to be expected that he may ratifie the businesse. Daphnis gives Chloe a rare Apple.
  • A fellow-servant of Lamo's brings word, that their Lord would be there speedily. A pleasant Garden is pleasantly described. Lamo, Daphnis, and Chloe make all things fine. Lampis the Herdsman spoils the Garden, to provoke the Lord against Lamo, who had denyed him Chloe in Marriage. Lamo laments it the next day. Eudromus teaches him how he may escape the anger. Astylus their young Master comes first, with Gnatho his Parasite. Astylus promises to excuse them for the Garden, and procure their pardon from his Father. Gnatho falls in love with Daphnis, offers to force him, but in vain. Dionysophanes the Lord, with his Wife Clearista comes. Amongst other things, sees the Goats. Where he heares Daphnis his Musick, and all admire his Art of piping. Gnatho out of his Pæderastic begs of Astylus, that he may carry Daphnis along with him to the City, and obtains it. Eudromus heares it and tells Daphnis. Lamo thinking it was now time, tells Dionysophanes the whole story, how Daphnis was found, how brought up. He and Clearista considering the thing carefully, they find that Daphnis is their Sonne. Therefore they receive him with great joy, and Dionysophanes tells the reason why he exposed him. The Countrey fellowes come in to gratulate. Chloe in the interim complains that Daphnis has forgot her. She's stolen and carried away by Lampis. Daphnis laments by himself. Gnatho hears him, rescues Chloe, and is received to favour. Dryas then tells Chloe's story. Her they take to the City too. There at a banquet, Megacles of Mitylene ownes her for his Daughter. And the Wedding is kept in the Countrey.
  • On the island of Lesbos, a goatherd named Lamon finds one of his goats suckling a fine baby boy, evidently exposed by his parents. The good man adopts him as his own child, calling him Daphnis, and brings him up to herd his goats. The year after he was found, a neighbour, Dryas, discovers a baby girl nourished by a ewe in the grotto of the nymphs. She is adopted under the name of Chloe, and trained to tend the sheep. The two young people pasture their herds in common, and are bound by an innocent and childlike affection. Eventually, this feeling ripens on both sides to something deeper; but in their innocence they know not the meaning of love, even when they learn that the little god has them in his especial keeping. After a winter of forced separation, which only inflames their passion, Daphnis sues for the hand of Chloe. In spite of his humble station, he is accepted by her foster-parents; but the marriage is deferred till after the vintage, when Lamon's master is coming. On his arrival the goatherd describes the finding of the child, and exhibits the tokens found with him. Hereupon he is recognised as the son of the master of the estate, and restored to his real position. By the aid of Daphnis's parents, Chloe is soon identified as the daughter of a wealthy Lesbian, who in a time of poverty had intrusted her to the nymphs. The young people are married with great pomp, but return to their pastoral life, in which they find idyllic happiness.


  • F or A: Florentinus Laurentianus Conventi Soppressi 627 (XIII) — complete
  • V or B: Vaticanus Graecus 1348 (XVI) — mostly complete
  • O: Olomucensis M 79 (XV) — gnomic excerpts
  • Annibale Caro, Amori pastorali di Dafni e Cloe (Parma, 1784, but written before 1538) — into Italian
  • Angell Daye, Daphnis and Chloe (London: Robert Waldegrave, 1587); reprinted and edited by Joseph Jacobs (London, 1890)
  • James Craggs, The Pastoral Amours of Daphnis and Chloe (1764)
  • C. V. Le Grice (Anonymous), Daphnis and Chloe: A Pastoral Novel (1803) — with omissions
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